Carbohydrates are an essential building blocks for health and healing but getting the right ones is the key. The key is choosing them wisely, and timing them properly. Used optimally, carbs can enhance your fitness regimen. Settle your hormones and promote sleep or derail it all and cause sickness and disease.
Since I was 16 I’ve heard all the “rules’ about carbs, I remember my old hairdressing clients when I was 18 on the Atkins Diet which was strictly no carbs and the no carbs after 5pm . . . you have seen them all right? But are you confused as I was?
Well I went on a research rampage over the last few years and through my nutrition training this is my take and personal experience with carbohydrates.
From being a vegetarian fruit, vegetable, grain and whole food eater. I went on the ‘low-carb’ bandwagon and I even tried Ketosis (extremely high fat, high protein and very low too NO carbs) and it was the sickest I’ve ever been although I was sick before, but it made me much worst. It has a great effect on obesity as you can loose weight dramatically but not correctly, or on very sick epileptic children who need a high fat diet for the brain to cope . . . being ‘low carb’ can work for some and can be stepping stone to get you where you need to go in short time but it is my belief and through my research that a prolonged time of ‘low-carb’ is not good for the brained can do more harm. I have seen when people cut out all fruit and go low carb the body can not cope and goes into shut down mode, the more I was trying to clear by body and loose weight the worst I got as it was starved of all glucose which is essential for the brain to function for the glands to produce a healthy balance of hormones and for my body to thrive. The Paleo way of eating is still ‘low-carb’ as is the Gaps Diet which promote real foods and healthy living so again can be a stepping stone in your healing journey, so this information below can still be used in conjunction to that way of eating. I still stand by my body feeling so much better without soy, grains, legumes and sugar but it did not go so well with the much needed simple healthy carbohydrate.
So now I eat an abundance of healthy simple carbohydrates in the form of fruit and vegetables each day, at each meal and I have not gained any weight and I’m slowly building the much needed muscles I lost through my Adrenal Fatigue and Fibromyalgia, as simple carbohydrates release energy slowly in to the cells I have energy! Yay to that fellow Chronic Fatigue suffers- you can have it too. I can now exercise without crashing back to bed for days and my hormones are balanced. This has taken a year of trailing how much carbs my individual body needs and slowly slowly introducing the right type of exercise for my body and it’s needs-blocking out the latest fads in exercise and ways of eating and listening to my body and what it needs each day- not comparing my body to any one else body and loving the ride.
So let’s break this information down . . . when you work out, have a busy life you need energy or in my case having Fibromyalgia meant each night as I slept my body switch on the muscles like I was running a marathon; thus waking me up with exhaustion and achy muscles. This is because the muscle needs an energy source or they will start breaking down the muscle for energy. If your food source is low in natural glucose and fructose from fruits the body can not sustain energy and then that effects your endocrine system and your whole body. In others words your body is starving or thinks it’s in starvation/famine so it eat’s the muscles and keeps the fat . . . oh gosh the opposite of what we want huh? By feeding your cells and brain with good healthy complex carbohydrates the body uses what it needs and you get energy stored in a healthy way.
So what’s the good carbs and the bad carbs?
All “Complex Carbohydrates” are nutrients that break down into glucose, your body’s primary source of energy and essential for the brain, and most foods contain them. Fruits and Vegetables!
But not all carbs are created equal and we know not all calories are created equally. Sugars that are added to foods, baked goods, pastas, cakes, crackers, muffins and refined grains (even gluten free products) such as white rice are broken down quickly by your body as these are a simple chains of 2 sugar molecules “Simple Carbohydrates”. That means they provide almost-instant energy, but it doesn’t last and spikes insulin to be released which then has to be stored outside the cells and this kind of sugar can not be used within the cells, the body then sends in hormones to cope and candida to mop up the excess sugar. This unbalances the bacteria and the whole body goes out of balance this is the onset of diabetes and fatigue, all while not fuelling the cells and feeding the brain so you crave more sugar and you are on a roller coaster of energy and emotions. When you eat a complex carbohydrate (fruit or vegetables) in a whole food state that fruit or vegetable is a complete package of fibre, minerals, fructose that can be converted to glucose-remember the brains food. FRUIT DOES NOT SPIKE INSULIN. Other carbs, such as those found in whole grains, vegetables and legumes, take longer to digest, so you get a steadier supply of energy but that can come at a price if you are not combining them properly or our body is backed up with waste.
Simple carbohydrate rich foods like bread can be very high in calories. But many foods that contain complex carbs, such as fruits and vegetables, are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals so you can eat them in abundance without gaining weight. Others fall somewhere in between: Whole grains contain a lot of nutrients and calories, while white bread has no nutrients and still a lot of calories. Neither are good options for digestion and brain health and especially Autism or behavioural issues.
What does this mean? Remove simple carbs like added refined sugar and refined grains like breads, biscuits, cookies, pastas, pastries, sweets, lollies and crackers (even gluten free) and consider all other healthy none processed carbohydrates to be a productive food to fuel your body and can be eaten in abundance like all fruit and vegetables.
What carbs when?
“Complex Carbohydrates” or “Natural sugars” are essential for the brain and if they are lacking in the body the gut can not produce the hormones it needs for proper function i.e. Serotonin and Gaba. So by increasing your healthy none processed carbs you slowly over time balance your energy, brain function and hormones. Loosing symptoms like brain fog, low energy, skin conditions and low mood and low libido. But don’t be fooled to thinking refined sugars “Simple Carbohydrates” will do this as they will cause the symptoms I have just listed . . . so NO lollies, sweets, chocolates and biscuits and trying to justify it’s good energy for the body, you know it’s not even in moderation!
Eating your fruit in the morning to wake up your digestion and allow your body to exercise or work hard is important. If you eat breakfast of fats and proteins your body will have to work hard to convert that into glucose for the brain. Unless you plan to rest for 1-3 hours after each meal, this will not digest and you will then be adding more food on top throughout the day and feel tired and have brain fog. By eating fruit as your first meal to break your fast (sleep) this is easily digestable food and the body will not need to use as much energy to digest it and that energy will go to you for your work or exercise. Then lunch could be a light meal as well like a salad or fruit without fats or proteins so you fuel your brain without loading your body with heavy to digest foods. Dinner can be a light steamed cooked meal with fats if you wish for that as you have 12-18 hours after say dinner at 7pm to digest it. You can of course continue with a light meal of fruit or a salad to aid digestion further and give your body chance to heal. Remember no fruit after proteins, fats and starches!
Team this information up with learning about fruit and how it can heal your body and give you sustained energy and feed your brain; The truth about fruit . . .
So in conclusion Carbohydrates are a great essential food for your brain and cells but you must choose nature offerings not man kinds to get these benefits.